CNSC allows Point Lepreau fuel reload
March 22, 2012
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced today its decision to authorize NB Power Nuclear (NBPN) to proceed with reloading fuel in the newly refurbished Point Lepreau reactor. NBPN will also require CNSC's approval prior to restarting the reactor, which will remain in a guaranteed shutdown state until that point.
The refurbishment outage of the Point Lepreau
Generating Station started in the Spring of 2008.
NBPN fulfilled all of the licence conditions prerequisites for fuel reload. CNSC staff assessed the information submitted by the operator and concluded that adequate measures had been taken to ensure the safety of the public, the workers and the environment. A team of CNSC onsite staff and technical experts performed numerous inspections and reviews, to confirm that prerequisites were adequately met and necessary installation and commissioning improvements satisfactorily completed. A copy of the official CNSC decision is available upon request at email@example.com.
"The CNSC is satisfied the operator has taken adequate measures to protect the public, the workers and the environment, in order to proceed with reloading fuel in the nuclear reactor at the Point Lepreau Generating Station", said Ramzi Jammal, Executive Vice-President and Chief Regulatory Operations Officer at the CNSC. "Throughout refurbishment activities, NBPN has demonstrated a high commitment to safety", he added.
Following a public hearing, the CNSC renewed NBPN operating licence for the Point Lepreau Generating Station in February 2012. The CNSC is committed to ensuring the safety of Canadians, and would not have renewed NBPN's licence without the assurances that the facility can operate safely and securely.
About return to service
As part of return to service and as per its licence conditions, NBPN must seek three additional approvals before bringing the reactor to full power (i.e., prior to removing the reactor from the guaranteed shutdown state, exceeding 0,1% and exceeding 35% of full power).
About CANDU nuclear fuel
At the heart of all CANDU reactors are fuel pellets made of natural (non enriched) uranium. These small pellets are inserted into tubes made from a metal alloy extremely resistant to heat and corrosion, called Zircaloy. The tubes are welded together into bundles, which are loaded inside the reactors. In a CANDU-6 reactor like the one at the Point Lepreau Generating Station, 12 fuel bundles are inserted into 380 fuel channels, for a total 4,560 fuel bundles.
Figure 1: Arrangement of fuel bundles in a CANDU vessel